Cape May Rare Bird Alert - 5/30/1996
You have reached the Cape May Birding Hotline, a service of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. Highlights for the week ending May 30 include sightings of Mississippi Kite, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Sandwich Tern, Red-necked Phalarope, Golden Plover, Dickcissel, local nature notes, and announcements.

Horseshoe Crabs will continue to mate and lay eggs well into June, but the shorebirds are thinning out as they always do toward the end of May, as they should since they need to reach the Arctic to breed. May 30 fair numbers of shorebirds were still being seen at the various viewing sites: Norbury's Landing, Reed's Beach, and East Point.

MISSISSIPPI KITES are coming through; 3 were seen May 21-22 from Bayshore Road at the Beanery. One was seen May 23 over the Belleplain State Forest office, and one was seen May 24 over the South Cape May Meadows [Nature Conservancy Migratory Bird Refuge].

Good late spring hawk flights occurred on May 21-24, bringing not only the kites but also two BALD EAGLES May 21 and two May 22; 250+ BROADWINGED HAWKS May 21; over 300 BROADWINGS, 15 NORTHERN HARRIER, 18 RED-TAILED HAWK, 1 MERLIN, 1 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, & 3 COOPER'S HAWKS on May 22. The flight on May 24 included an imm. MISSISSIPPI KITE, an imm. BALD EAGLE, 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS and 5 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS.

WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS are being seen from shore, as they dance over the offshore waters. Fifteen were seen from the Cape May- Lewes Ferry, and 2 from the Meadows on May 28. Ten were seen from the Concrete Ship [Sunset Beach] on May 29.

A SANDWICH TERN was seen at the Meadows on May 24. GANNETS are moving late this year; 15 were seen on May 29 off the Meadows. Another late treat were 50 PURPLE SANDPIPERS on the Ferry jetty on May 28.

At Brigantine [Forsythe] national Wildlife Refuge May 24 there were RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, 20+ GULL-BILLED TERNS, and an adult BARN OWL visible in the nest box at the end of the wildlife loop drive.

On May 25, a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was feeding on the beach at Gandy'S Beach, Cumberland Co. GULL-BILLED TERNS have also been seen from Shellbay Landing, Exit 9 on the Parkway. A GOLDEN PLOVER was seen in Jarvis Sound, in the back bay marshes behind Wildwood, by observers aboard the "Skimmer", a wildlife viewing boat ride. Proceeds of this project benefit CMBO; to learn more call 884-3100.

DICKCISSELS recorded this week inlcuded one on May 25 along New England Road, and one singing May 26 on CMBO's Hidden Valley bird walk. The Hidden Valley walk also enjoyed ORCHARD ORIOLE, BOBOLINK, ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS & WILLOW FLYCATCHERS.

The Higbee Beach parking lots are closed now for the summer, but Higbee is open to birding and Butterfly watching. Park in the Hidden Valley parking lot and walk. You'll find YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, BLUE GROSBEAK, INDIGO BUNTING, WHITE-EYED VIREO, and more.

Belleplain State Forest continues to offer ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, REDSTART, YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, HOODED WARBLER, OVENBIRD, ORCHARD ORIOLE, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, GNATCATCHER, CUCKOOS, BLACK VULTURE, BROAD-WINGED HAWK, SUMMER TANAGER, and more. Good spots include the bridges on Savages Run, Narrows road, Cedar Bridge Road, Maisell Road, and the area around the Forest Office. Ask there for a map.

On May 30, many of the Belleplain birds were dashing about feeding on the emerging 17-year Cicadas behind the field office.

The Meadows has 9 PIPING PLOVER nests this year; it is one of the few sites that was spared so far from oil washed up from the May 16 spill. Oil is still washing up. The Meadows also has nesting LEAST BITTERNS.

The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge will eventually total 21,700 acres; to date, about 8000 acres have been purchased, and are open to walking access for birding, butterfly watching, nature study, photography, and environmental education. Please do not drive on any Refuge lands. There is no problem walking on Refuge lands, despite the boundary signs which look intimidating and say "Unauthorized entry prohibited." The Refuge HQ is on Kimble's Beach Road, off Rt. 47 just south of Reeds Beach. The fields along Kimble's Beach Rd. are Refuge property, and can be explored. THe next two roads south along Rt. 47 back onto the Refuge, Woodcock Lane and Bobwhite Lane; park at the end of either of these roads and walk to your heart's content. Be sure to let CMBO know what you find there.

Local nature notes follow.

Southern Arrow-wood viburnum is in bloom now, as are multiflora roses. In Belleplain, Mountain Laurel and Sheep Laurel are coming into bloom. Butterflies are appearing in numbers now. TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAIL and BLACK SWALLOWTAIL were seen May 30 at Belleplain. RED-SPOTTED PURPLE were seen in Goshen May 26. RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAKS are out. A male ZABULON SKIPPER was in CMBO's garden on May 30.

On May 25 two MONARCH BUTTERFLIES were seen coming in off the Delaware Bay, one at Gandy's Beach in Cumberland Co., and one at Reed's Beach. On May 21 we first noticed thousands of the PERIODICAL CICADAS emerging in Belleplain. This emergence is still underway and attracts lots of hungry birds. The Cicada is known for its cycles of 13 or 17 years between emergences. The mass appearance overwhelms predators and allows the majority to survive and mate.

[Program notes omitted -LL]

The Cape May birding hotline [(609) 884-2626] is a service of Cape May Bird Observatory and includes sightings from Cape May, Atlantic, and Cumberland counties and adjacent areas. Updates are made on Thursday evening, more often if warranted. [Compiled by CMBO staff; transcribed by L. Larson (llarson@pucc.princeton.edu).] Please report sightings of rare or unusual birds to CMBO at (609) 884-2736. Thank you for calling; good birding.

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